Carolinas Roundup |

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. plans to develop about 20 retail stores in Malaysia, further expanding its operations overseas.

The Winston-Salem-based doughnut maker said Friday the shops will open over the next five years. The company is working with affiliate Berjaya Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Sdn Bhd in Malaysia.

Last month, Krispy Kreme announced plans to develop about 25 locations in Turkey. It operates in 14 countries.

The expansions come despite Krispy Kreme's financial struggles. The company reported its first profitable quarter in more than a year in June. The chain has faced allegations of former management misconduct, a nationwide trend toward healthier eating and bankruptcy filings by several franchisees. Associated Press

The number of Charlotte-area houses, townhouses and condos sold last month through the Carolina Multiple Listing Services dropped 30 percent last month, falling to at least a six-year low, as prices dipped again.

There were 2,721 houses sold, according to MLS data released Friday, compared with 3,875 in July 2007. Last month's sales tally also was lower than any July since before 2003. MLS figures account for nearly all existing home sales within about a 50-mile radius and roughly one-fourth of new home sales.

The average selling price declined nearly 4 percent, to $230,632, marking the eighth consecutive down month.

The number of pending sales was down 28 percent, a sign of weak sales to come as Charlotte and the nation continue struggling with a severe housing slump. The region saw record sales in 2006 and has been in decline since, with the falloff accelerating this year. Stella M. Hopkins

North Carolina is the least expensive state for mortgage closing costs, according to a study released this week by The state bypassed Indiana, last year's winner, for the honor.

Mortgage closing costs – which can include lawyers' fees, title insurance and various taxes – averaged $2,650 in North Carolina, compared with a national average of $3,118. Christina Rexrode